Sunday, December 28, 2008

My First Interview--Ahem!



I couldn't resist the graphic to accompany the link to "my first interview". http://www.wordsofbelief.com/PromoPages/WOBInterviews.aspx#single2

These were the questions I was asked to respond to after "A Very Kate Christmas" was named as Editor's Selection in the Words of Belief Holiday Writing Contest. I am ashamed to admit that I forgot about it (or maybe that's a good thing, who knows?), but I thought of it today and checked their website, and voila! There it was!

So please tell me I didn't come off as a dunce! The other author's answers were so well-thought-out and professional, while mine are just me.

Honestly, I'm not preening myself as little Marie Aristocat, but I am saying that it's a lot of fun!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Exercise in Fives

First let me say that this idea came from The Muffin, which is the Women on Writing blog--check the sidebar for the link. I don't think it originated there, but I've been unable to track down the actual source. So I'm stating, for the record and the sake of not infringing on anyone's copyrighted idea, that the exercise came from somewhere! Here it is:

What were you doing five years ago (December, 2003)?
  • spending the first Christmas without my parents who died within 9 weeks of each other in January and April of that year
  • teaching in a middle school language center in Fort Worth, Texas
  • learning to be "on my own" with no one to answer to for the first time in 59 years
  • writing fan fiction for The Big Valley website
  • beginning to think about retirement in the near future

What are five jobs that you've had?

  • cafeteria server (in college)
  • library assistant (in college)
  • residential assistant/switchboard (in college)
  • front-desk receptionist and general flunkie
  • educational consultant for a software company
  • teacher

(I know that's six, but I learned a lot doing all of them!)

What are five things on your list today? (Since this is the end of the day, I'll list 5 things I've accomplished)

  • organized notebook of possible writing contests, submissions
  • updated "to do" lists re: writing
  • installed new magicJack plug-in and software to provide internet phone service with free incoming/outgoing 24/7
  • changed sheets
  • sorted laundry

What are five snacks that you enjoy?

  • popcorn
  • chickenfeed
  • chocolate
  • string cheese
  • nachos

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?

  • Have a fund from which to contribute to so many worthy causes that crop up daily
  • Buy a motorhome
  • Travel in Europe
  • Visit Washington D.C.
  • Build a writing retreat (like right outside the back door!)

The possibilities for these excercises are endless and interesting--and make one remember the past and think about the future.

I recommend The Muffin. It comes to my inbox on a daily basis and is great reading!



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's Done!

Yesterday I finished Finding Papa's Shining Star, the sequel to Where Is Papa's Shining Star? , the novel due to be released in print and as an e-book by The Wild Rose Press sometime next year. It is a first draft--and has a long way to go in revision before it's ready for submission and, hopefully, a contract. However, it's done, and I can take a breath, let it "percolate" for a few days, and move on to other things.

I keep a projects chart/folder in which I record particular projects I'm working on, what I did with them (submission, research queries,etc.), and what resulted from the action (acceptance, rejection, answer received etc.). There are pages and pages of contests and other places for submission, sent to me by friends or received through online newsletters, that I haven't been able to study yet. As a teacher, I was good at multi-tasking. As a writer, it's all or nothing!

So now I can sit back with a highlighter and see what possibilities are out there--hopefully with a $ "reward". The prospect is pleasing. In addition, I have three novels in first-draft which need editing and revising. The prospect is daunting!

In addition, I would like to find a publisher for Four Summer Days, which is, I feel, the best thing I've ever done. I had copies printed on my own (this was in the days before I knew what I know now about submitting with an eye to publication), and the response from those who read it was gratifying. There's got to be a publisher somewhere who will take a chance on it. It has a sequel, too, but it's less than stellar--and I can say that because I wrote it, and I think authors are brutally honest about their own work.

As this year comes in an end amid cold, gray days, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I've learned a great deal and made some progress. I can call myself a writer because that's what I DO--not because my name is a "household word" or I've "made a bundle". Neither of those will happen, and I can honestly say that those are not even at the bottom of my list of goals. The small achievements are, for me, the very best simply because they are mine.

One of the most exciting prospects for the new year is watching and waiting with other writer-friends for the achievement of their goals. You know who you are out there---and I can't wait to share the joy of your successes!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

End in Sight!

Today I hit 50K words for Finding Papa's Shining Star, the sequel to the novel already under contract. The end---65K---is in sight. Then comes revision, but I'm rather anxious to get to that. As I write, I think back to the weak spots in previous passages and want them fixed ASAP!

The story has taken a turn that I didn't expect when I first conceived WIPSS. It was all one story then, but it was becoming too long. So, I cut it off and took up the story ten years on.

I've had to do a lot of research to get the historical facts straight. How wonderful to have the information available with the click of the mouse!

Also, today I discovered Windows Movie Maker and played with it a bit. When I get the pictures I need, I'm confident I can make a "trailer" to add to my website. One of the marketing "tips" I picked up somewhere was to put the trailer on a DVD and take a portable DVD player to a book-signing. I have the little portable player, so now all I need is the trailer to "hook 'em in"!

My goal is to get the 65K words written before Christmas, allow the file to "sit" while I work on some short stories which will, hopefully, bring in some revenue for the marketing fund.

January will be for revising and submitting a synopsis to Nan, the lovely editor who is working on WIPSS with me. Recently the Wild Rose Press Blog had an entry about "trusting your editor". Believe me, I do. She has been so patient and open to questions, and every comment she made on the ms was right on target. She has scheduled the second read-through for this week. Then the staff will be on a much-deserved vacation for two weeks.

I'm not sure where 2008 went, but a lot has happened in the past 12 months. I've done some things that I never expected to do and learned a great deal. But there's more to be done and more to learn. . .so I shall trudge on!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's A Full-Time Job

No matter how you look at it, anything you undertake with some seriousness is a full-time job. I'm finding that out about writing.

I'm almost 30K words into the sequel for the novel to be published. The end goal is 65K, so I'm not even half-way there. And that's just a first draft--you know, one of those raw eggs waiting to be fried, scrambled, or poached in order to be edible! While I do a little editing as I go, the finished story will not be a finished product.

Then friends keep sending me fantastic links to periodicals looking for submissions, as well as tantalizing contests begging to be entered. Not to mention the two other novels that need to be revised before I can do anything with them. Not to mention short story ideas that are beating down the door of my mind trying to get out.

So much to write, so little time!

Also, I have to come up with a marketing plan for the novel. The publisher has a marketing department, but in the end, an author is ultimately responsible for selling her published work. Even the "big" publishing houses, as I understand it, do limited promotion except in the case of "big" name authors! I'm trying to convince myself that this can be a real adventure, full of good times and meeting new people.

Fortunately, the "marketing kitty" is growing fatter with some revenue from other writing, and I do have some ideas of how to spend it.

I find myself busier, actually, than when I was teaching. Sometimes I have to take a break or suffer burn-out. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever see the forest for the trees. Maybe a small portion of it anyway.

I have no excuse not to write. Hanna still takes lovely long naps and then plays contentedly in her little play yard in the study while I tap-tap-tap away at the computer. I have four full days to nyself. So whenever I am tempted to cave in to the pile-up of this new work, I can't justify it.

Speaking of no excuses, writing this blog is not one either, so I'd better get back to work!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Being a Tortoise

It occurs to me that I have started off with something of a bang, which could easily fade away without so much as an echo! That thought alone should keep my feet on the ground!

I have been "in consultation" with writing friends. One read and passed on the interview questionaire sent out by the Words of Belief Holiday Writing Contest. I told her I wanted to sound neither dumb nor nose in the air. I knew she would tell me if I leaned toward either extreme!

The second has critiqued my website and offered some valid suggestions for improving the look as well as practical tips for such thinks as links. I'm working on it.

How lucky I am to have these two friends with unique talents!

Speaking of the website, I emailed Words of Belief and asked permission to use the judges' remarks, the excerpt they chose, the book cover, and a link to their website. They gave me a thumbs up, so it's done, and I've now asked them to check it out to be sure that I've not infringed on any material copyrighted to Words of Belief. Hopefully, all is well.

If I am being a tortoise instead of a hare, so much the better. I don't have to get where I'm going in a hurry, just get there. Also, it might be nice to figure out where I'm going and not get lost in the rush!

I've long wanted to publish---and at this point in my life, it's something I want to enjoy, not stress over. I'm not going to get rich. My little tales aren't going to be on The New York Times Best Seller List. I'm going to continue to collect rejection slips along the way. (Someone told me once that you are not a "real" writer until you have a rejection slip file!)

It seems to me that the greatest reward is a sense of accomplishment, kind words from readers, and the sharing of success (and failure) with true friends.

There is a certain lingering sadness in the knowledge that my mother would have reveled in all this. To her, despite any evidence to the contrary, it would have been a monumental event! Mothers are like that, of course. I miss sharing each step of the way with Clair, too.

When the "bang" has faded to an echo and then into silence, the tortoise will plod on. . .and on. . .and on. . .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Avalanche!

Awhile back, my good writing friend Donna sent me the link to a holiday contest story with two prizes (1st and 2nd) and 13 finalists, all of which would be published in an anthology. I sent in a story, hoping to be one of the finalists. This morning I woke to an email notifying me that I have won 2nd place! I squealed for a full 5 minutes, something that is totally out of character for me. Lady even came running in to see what was wrong with Mommy!

Obviously, I am pleased (to put it mildly), but things are happening almost too fast for me. Getting some stories accepted, the book contract, and now this---it's just hard to take it all in. How do I explain how painfully shy I have always been about being in the spotlight? Just seeing my name and the kind comments on their website (http://www.wordsofbelief.com/--- look left and click on contest winners) made me squirm. And there is the prospect of marketing Where Is Papa's Shining Star? and, hopefully, its sequel. It must be done---and I wish I had a clone to do it!

Can an old dog learn new tricks? I'm not sure. Maybe the question should be, does an old dog want to learn new tricks? I feel rather like I've been caught in an avalanche and am not sure I really want to be rescued!

Someone send out a St. Bernard with a keg full of courage!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Good Swift Kick Is Needed Again!

I am dragging my feet AND my fingers at the computer with Finding Papa's Shining Star. It's plotted out, and big chunks are already done--just need to be copied and pasted into the new document--so WHY am I not getting more done?

Maybe what I need is a goal of X number of words a day like I did with NaNo. The problem is, while I got those words down, they were awful! When I'm working seriously on something like this, I do take more time to edit as I go. That's a good thing, however. I don't want to end up with 65K worth of total garbage that takes twice as long to edit and revise!

The sun is shining through the windows in the study. We're all in here soaking it up--Hanna in her play yard and I in my recliner with Lady at my feet. A peaceful setting. Drowsy. Doesn't lend itself to productivity.

Le sigh. Le yawn. Okay--I will finish another 2000 words before I go to bed tonight! Or it's the wooden spoon! Goodness knows, there are enough of them out there!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NaNo 2008--I Did It!

Okay, folks, I just had to add my "winner's" logo to this blog! I actually did it--and in 17 days, too! Though it is BAD, the story idea has possibililties, and I like the characters. It just needs some major revising--but the word count is there!

This one was for you, Clair! All right, I see you rolling your eyes at me, but I know that you'd say, "Well, good!" I always planned for you to be there at the first book signing, too, you know. I have a feeling you'll be the "angel on my shoulder". Love you and miss you!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Link to a Must-Read and Other Ramblings

I subscribe to WriterBewareBlogs and find it extremely informative. Today's blog is a must-read, so I'm including the link in the body of the text even though it's in the list on the right. http://accrispin.blogspot.com/

Today's blog covers a wide range of subjects, including what's going on at major publishing houses in these lean economic times (slashed pensions, for example), as well as links to writing synopses and query letters, surely the bane of every budding author's existence!

There is also information on a new software calle Greenprint which is ecologically-friendly in that it allows you to print only what you need from a page, saving ink and paper in the process. There is a free download, although an advertisement-free download may be purchased for around $30.

For laughs, there's a "bad sex scene" link--but I only got so far as to find the few I looked at just plain silly and totally without redemptive humor--in my opinion, of course. Give me "fade to black" any day and let me imagine gentleness, tenderness, respect, joy--you know, all those things that accompany true love!

I highly recommend this blog, folks! There's also a site called Preditors and Editors that I always check out before entering a contest or submitting. It's worth a look, too.

I am still editing! Even though the editor made relatively few suggestions for change, the ones she made were on the mark--and outstanding in that they helped me focus on other areas that needed to be looked at with a critical eye. She said that she loves what she does---thank goodness for that! It is grueling work. Still, I press on because I want Where Is Papa's Shining Star? to reflect well on me as an author (fledgling though I might be) and on the publisher who is taking a chance on same.

So--back to work. Groan. And this is only the first round, and then there are the dreaded galleys. . .where are the halycon days of writing my little fan-fic tales and posting with only a quick edit?

Seriously, this opportunity is high on my list of blessings for which I am grateful this Thanksgiving season--and I am determined to give it my best.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Editing Business

Well, today I received the novel ms back for editing. It is a tedious procedure, but it helps that the editor did such a thoroughly terrific job on it to begin with. I'm not trying for brownie points when I say there was not a single comment I didn't find right on the money! She made other suggestions, too, like hunt out every use of "then" and "anyway" and see what could be done with those words. I was appalled--yea, horrified!--at how many times they appeared--mostly unnecessarily. You can bet they got yanked and/or replaced.

I did some tightening up, too, and am rewriting the very end, which I think is rather trite. If the editor prefers the original, we'll go back to it, but hopefully the new paragraphs will be better. I suppose I am my own worst critic, but the thing needs to be done right--and nothing is ever so "perfect" that it can't be made better.

It's a learning experience, and I always feel good about learning something new.

I've worked all day until I'm ready to run amok down Bath House Row singing, "My bucket's got a hole in it. . ." or "Yes! We Have No Bananas!" or. . .well, you get the point.

Tomorrow I will read the entire ms from beginning to end to see if it makes sense since I've slashed and burned my way through it today. If so, off it goes. If it comes back, I'll go at it again until it's right.

I'm about 2600+ words into the sequel.

This is hard work.

I'm off to the shower.

Monday, November 17, 2008

No More NaNoWriMo!

I finished my NaNo novel, Blue Velvet, with 43 words to spare! It is unarguably the worst thing I've ever written! Oh, the story idea is good, and I like my characters, although they need a lot of developing. But the whole idea was to get the words down, and down they are! When I revise and rewrite, I'll add the historical facts that will make it more interesting, too.

NOW I need to get on with Finding Papa's Shining Star, the sequel to the first unreleased novel with TWRP. I want to get it written and submitted so that, if it is accepted, it can be a "coming soon" part of marketing Where Is Papa's Shining Star?

I have bits and pieces of it written. Well, actually, there are huge chunks of it mouldering away in computer folders. That's why it couldn't be used for NaNo. It was all one book, actually, until I realized how unwieldy that was and decided to split it up.

So, that's the next project. Hmmm. Writing is a full-time activity--and darned hard work!

If you haven't checked in on WOW! Women on Writing Blog: The Muffin, follow the link on the right of this page. It's crawling with information and ideas, and you can e-subscribe to it. I enjoy reading it when it pops up regularly in my email.

Now I must go pat myself on the back for finishing 50,043 words in 17 days. If, of course, I can get my weary hands off the keyboard!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Cover!

Last night I received the book cover designed by artist Rae Monet for Where Is Papa's Shining Star? which will be released by The Wild Rose Press sometime next year. From what I provided on the ms information sheet, she chose images which contrast with the title in such a way to make readers want to find the connection. I think she did an outstanding job! If you want to visit her website, here it is: http://www.raemonetinc.com/

Wealthy Alan Ashley, blinded in World War I, returns home to face a challenge to his ability to run the family business. As the case goes to court, he finds himself drawn to the cheerful, ever-optimistic Lenore Seldon, his defense attorney’s secretary. When he wins his case, he offers her employment, but she declines and disappears from his life.
Ten years later, frail and in desperate need of work, Lenore answers his ad for a personal assistant. He hires her with the agreement that she will live in, chaperoned by his housekeeper, so that she can drive for him, and he can teach her to use the Braille writer. She is the perfect employee, but he senses that she is frightened of something—or someone.
When he finds himself falling in love with her, he must uncover her secrets in order to save their relationship--
-and to save her from herself.

I am excited and, at the same time, rather overwhelmed by the reality and the knowledge that I must be part of the marketing process. The book isn't going to sell itself! Not being one to enjoy being in the "spotlight", so to speak, it's not going to be easy. I suppose worthwhile things are never easy. Still, it's a daunting prospect.

Meanwhile, as soon as I finish NaNo, I want to start on the sequel, Finding Papa's Shining Star, and hope that it, too, will find a home with The Wild Rose Press.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The New Word Place

It was time to delete the "old" Word Place and re-create it as a reflection of what is going on in my new/old writing life. First of all, I've added the original links to the blogs of good writing friends, and I've also added links to writing blogs that I receive by email and which provide excellent writing information.

So now is the time to explain the other links and try to do so without sounding like I'm tooting my own horn--which, honestly, I'm not--just sharing some good news with good friends.

First of all, please check LongStoryShort around the seventh of November since they accepted a short-short story from me for publication. Take a few minutes to read "You'll Know Someday" based on a picture I found of my grandmother's first love.

The Storyteller is a print quarterly published in Arkansas. My story, "Looking Over the Edge", another story with a genealogical flavor, will appear in the April-May-June issue. As far as I know, it isn't on the newsstands, but a yearly subscription is $20 for the four issues.

Finally, a novel, Where Is Papa's Shining Star? has been contracted by the Vintage Line of The Wild Rose Press, a print and e-book romance publisher. The ebooks can be purchased at their site, and print books can be ordered through such mainline stores as Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Borders. I don't have a release date yet, of course, but watch this blog for updates. Hopefully, the sequel, Finding Papa's Shining Star, will also earn a contract in the future.

Meanwhile, I have more submissions "percolating" here and there and hope to see them in print also. I'm also working on a website, but it is slow going.

One last link to mention is my author's page on the National Novel Writing Month site. Thousands of people all over the world are working on producing 50,000 words between November 1-30. This is my second attempt with the wartime romance called Blue Velvet. See a cover designed by KatieBee and read the blurb.

I'll be adding more links and more information, so stay tuned!